Russian General Says Armenia’s Against Withdrawal of Base

TBILISI (Armenpress)–The commander of the Russian military base in southern Georgian Akhalkalaki Sergey Pogodin said at least 8-9 years are needed to pull out the base from the territory of Georgia.

The three year timetable–on which the Georgian side insists is not sufficient to prepare the base’s withdrawal–General Pogodin was quoted by Moscow-based Vremya Novostey newspaper.

Pogodin stressed that when setting the term of three years for pulling the base out–"no one has ever consulted with local inhabitants of the region who are predominantly Armenia’s." According to him–some 1,500 people work for the base now–for whom it is the only source of income. Keeping in mind the members of their families–it appears that the base keeps some 1,000 people in a region stricken by unemployment.

General Pogodin said that local inhabitants were opposing the withdrawal of the base within three years.

Russia and Georgia are expected to resume in June talks over the fate of the Russian base in Georgia–which is to be pulled out in line with the OSCE Istanbul 1999 summit decision.

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